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Taxation Ombudsman laments funding constraints

The Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman has detailed its plans to revitalise its taxpayers complaints service, but has acknowledged it is limited by significant funding constraints.

Business Jotham Lian 30 August 2019
— 1 minute read

The Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO) has released its corporate plan, outlining its strategic priorities and key performance areas for the next four years to 30 June 2023.

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One of its key priorities include providing an independent, efficient and effective tax complaints service for taxpayers, with plans to build upon the 2,712 complaints it received in the 12 months to 30 June 2019.

Of the 2,827 complaints resolved in the last financial year, the IGTO received a 45 per cent satisfaction result in terms of outcome and a 65 per cent satisfaction with regard to its service.

An average over the last four years showed that 68 per cent of complaints were acknowledged within two business days or three days during tax time.

The most complex complaints were resolved within 125 days on average, while the least complex cases were resolved within six days.

Funding constraints

However, the IGTO has acknowledged significant funding constraints that might hamper its ability to reach out and engage with the broader community.

“[There are] 11.5 million individual taxpayers, 3.8 million small businesses, over 20,000 ATO employees and ATO complaints,” the IGTO said.

“In comparison, at present, our agency operates with a team of approximately 30 people from a single office with national responsibility.

“Our ability to provide services to the community in line with their expectations is limited by the resources available to our office. This, in turn, is dependent upon the level of available funding — both of which are matters for the government and accordingly outside the control of our agency.”

Budget papers for 2019–20 show that the IGTO currently has an operating budget of around $6.5 million.

Apart from managing complaints, the IGTO also juggles the responsibility of conducting broader reviews into areas of tax administration for improvement and undertaking formal requests for investigations into the ATO or Tax Practitioners Board.

Despite its funding constraints, the IGTO plans to be flexible with its resources to “continue to meet the community’s expectations”.

“We care about members of the Australian community and assisting people in difficulty is our priority, so complaint actions are very important to us and need to take priority over broader reviews. This represents something of a team resource management challenge,” the IGTO said.

“The number of complaints we receive from the community has continued to increase. We also know that awareness is an issue for our office and will likely impact on our staffing and resource levels both currently and over the course of this plan.

“We will regularly review our resources and be flexible and agile in managing these resources. We design our work around multi-skilling our team to meet our administrative, operational and reporting requirements.”

Taxation Ombudsman laments funding constraints
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Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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